Monday, November 13, 2017

Treasure Island, Part III                           

-- from the personal journal of Sir Yael Smethwyk
105-1105, Quarantine Zone Six, Kiewa
Night fell a couple of hours ago, and we’re about to head out in the ruins of the city. Arden, the one-eyed, eight-fingered leader of the this camp’s defense forces, just showed up with Ekina, the lead salvager, and two gunmen – Alton and Brand – who are barely old enough to shave. They’ll join Marquis Weston, Paul Fletcher and myself for this foray, and we’re going in armed to the teeth.
Baronet Yuni still doesn’t know the primary reason for us being here, but I think she’s beginning to suspect. She asked a few pointed questions of Paul and me earlier today. I stuck to the story we’ve been using – humanitarian research for the Doctors Without Orbits organization – but our insistence on moving closer to our true objective is becoming the fly in the ointment for this façade. Still, I think her feelings for the Marquis may hold her at bay for a little while longer…
Time to move out.

-- from the personal journal of Paul Fletcher
106-1105, Kiewa Starport, aboard the ‘Chromium Koi’ star yacht
We’re heading back to Narmada now, just waiting for a priority container of collected data from Baron Glen, the Imperial Liaison here.
The foray into the city was a lot of sneaking and evading, and fortunately, not much shooting. Thank the Great Maker that neither side’s mercs were using night-vision or IR gear. As it was, both Arden and Ekina had a good handle on the tactical situation. I got shot at by a sniper, but he/she missed and both Arden and I didn’t. The sniper dropped a hunting rifle with plain iron sights from a sixth floor window as he/she expired. Ekina spat and cursed. Apparently some of the survivors in the ruins have turned to cannibalism to survive.
I’m really going to need a bottle of drinks to sleep tonight, just keep the nightmares at bay from what I saw out there. To maintain our cover, His Lordship had Ekina guide us to some medical facilities in the ruined areas. The first one had a makeshift morgue where body bags were stacked three deep from wall to wall on the floor, and had been completely looted. Ekina mentioned that every medical facility in the city had been hit by mercenaries or bandits since the fighting had started up last year.
The worst part was the stack of paper records archive boxes in the corner of the morgue. Each of those had two or three bodies of toddlers and infants inside.
We visited two others on our slow orbit to our real destination. Suffice to say that none of the governments on Kiewa has been living up to their responsibilities for caring for the people living in this quarantine zone, since the other two were little more that tombs now, lacking even the most rudimentary medical supplies and equipment.
As we left the second “tomb” we had to hunker down. The Sandovalian mercs had a drone up to scout the forward positions of the Republic’s militia forces. The militia had a heavy machine gun take it out about a kilometer from our position, so we beat feet for the Tanlo storage facility.
We had to make it look good, of course. So His Lordship took some video of the vandalism and looting of the facility to point up the inhumanity of it all, and then we got to the business of the day. I have to admit, that for a noble, he’s cagey – after we found the vault door for our target, he walked around to several others, leaving a convoluted trail for anyone who might be searching the sub-basement later on. But the door was still intact and sealed, so whatever is in there is still there, undisturbed. Since our molecular key from the mushroom on Olt is a single use job, we didn’t risk opening the door until we can get some serious backup and manpower to empty it out.
The Sandovalians sent another drone over us while we were still in the building, which also got shot down. But as we were heading back to the camp, a full squadron of combat transport helicopters from Sandovalia’s regular military were moving toward the center of town. We had to scatter and wait for them to move on. We got buzzed by a recon chopper on the flanks, but it was in too much of a hurry to notice us.
We pulled up stakes at first light and rode the G-Carrier back to the ship. Apparently, the Marquis plans on presenting his findings to Duke Darius and ask for Imperial intervention on behalf of the residents of the quarantine zones, plus assistance in retrieving the 40+ million credits Tomlinson stole from the planetary relief fund nearly a quarter century ago.
Of course, that may be a bit more complicated now. There are two mercenary cruisers bearing crescent moon markings in port now, offloading what appears to be a mechanized infantry company or two.
Gotta go – we’re getting ready to break atmo.

:: Request Access
>>CONNECTING . . . TERMINAL ONLINE.
:: Library Data
>>LIBRARY DATA: FUNCTION?
:: Search
>>LIBRARY DATA: SEARCH FUNCTION: PARAMETERS?
:: Mercenary Unit / Crescent Moon Insignia
>>SEARCHING . . . 1 ENTRY MATCHING PARAMETERS.
:: Display Entry
>ROGUE MOON IRREGULARS
> A battalion-sized unit of planetary combat mercenaries based on Logone (1617 Wayhaven/Domain of Sol) that specializes in guerilla and counter-insurgency combat missions, along with combat reconnaissance and special operations. The unit is considered elite by the Imperial Army Intelligence Section, employing a mix of combat veterans and indentured servants who were planetary or Imperial prisoners. As of 001-1104, Rogue Moon consists of two companies of mechanized infantry with an attached squadron of combat support aircraft, plus a light foot infantry company known as “The Skunkworks Gang” – Rogue Moon’s special forces unit.
> Rogue Moon was formed in 984 during the initial stages of the Solomani Rim War by retired Imperial Army Colonel Tanner Holt under the name “Holt’s Hellhounds.” Originally working for governments loyal to the Solomani Confederation, the unit was hired by the Imperial Army in 987 and began a series of special operations designed to eradicate all resistance forces still in play on Imperial-held Solomani worlds. After the war ended, the unit was renamed “Rogue Moon” and given an Imperial charter to operate within the Imperium.
> In the century since being chartered, Rogue Moon has expanded from company to battalion strength, specializing in the missions that planetary government forces cannot perform due to lack of capability or political will. They were actively involved with at least three of the warring countries during the most recent planetary war on Nan (2015 Wayhaven/Domain of Sol), along with numerous other missions conducted for corporate concerns throughout the Belaya subsector of Wayhaven/Domain of Sol. Their reputation is such that several planetary governments have capitulated as soon as the presence of this unit was announced by their enemies.
>>END OF ENTRY<<
>>COMMAND?
:: End Session
>>DISCONNECTING . . . TERMINAL OFFLINE.

-- from the personal journal of Baronet Kogura Yuni
113-1105, Whiskey Amber Oh Seven Arcology, Red Sun City, Narmada
I am spending the night in one of Weston’s guest suites after a day that has left my head spinning. I had suspected from the beginning that the Marquis was not being completely forthcoming as to why he wanted to go to Kiewa. I am happy to discover that his ulterior motive is still, in principle, altruistic.
This Oscar Tomlinson, the corrupt planetary official from Kiewa, who was executed near here by members of the Diamante Negro syndicate, was suspected of embezzling over 40 million credits from Kiewa’s Ebonscale Victims’ Relief Fund. Apparently, Weston’s spelunking fetish with Olt’s Mushroom Structure was designed to retrieve a molecular-encoded key that would open the storage vault where Tomlinson sequestered his ill-gotten gains before getting caught and imprisoned over a quarter-century ago. In his meeting with His Grace Duke Darius, Weston indicated that he seeks the funds solely to put them back in the proper hands.
I like the fact that he can be very convincing. I admire the fact that he is a man of conviction when it comes to the traditional values that the Imperium values so highly. And I am so very glad I have had the chance to meet and interact at length with such a man. The fact he finds me attractive is a very welcome bonus.
It didn’t take much convincing on Weston’s part to get His Grace to give preliminary approval to a humanitarian mission to Kiewa. After seeing that suffering first-hand and knowing that Weston will be in the middle of it once again, how could I not participate in this next phase? Tomorrow and the days that follow may test all of us to the very brink. I must be strong for myself, for Weston and for the Imperium. But now, I really need to put down my stylus and try to sleep.

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